Nearly all leaders understand that their job is to generate productivity and performance to achieve results.  Fewer realize that they can’t motivate performance – they can only create the environment in which it is most likely to happen.

There are many languages in which we can talk about motivation. Maslow has his hierarchy that places biological needs in front of anything and everything else. We’re going to talk about 7 values/motivators in just a moment. But regardless of your terminology, you can’t motivate anyone. You can attempt to apply external carrots or sticks, but unless they tap into an individual’s internal motivators your rewards and/or consequences are going to have short-lived impact.

The Values Index that Summit uses to help clients gain understanding of their own motivators contains seven categories:

  1. Aesthetic – When a person has a strong aesthetic value, they look for balance and harmony.  This can be in a literal sense of beauty, like an inviting work space, or it can be more subtle, like a focus on reducing negative environmental impact. Desire for life balance is aesthetic.
  2. Economic – Money talks, but to some people more than others.  If an individual is not motivated by money you can dangle financial incentives in front of them and not change performance.  Economics may no longer drive people who have ample reserves, and they may never motivate people whose lifestyle wants are simple.
  3. Individualistic – This value relates to a desire to do things “my way”. Some individualistic people do things differently in order to stand out from the crowd.  You can tap into this motivation when you give the team member space to create his or her own path to a result.
  4. Political – Most people with political values aren’t going to run for elected office.  They seek to have authority and influence, and they are ready for the accountability that goes along with it. They like to be team and project leaders.
  5. Altruistic – Some people are driven by looking out for the benefit of other people. They look for opportunities, to help, to give, even when it creates no advantage for themselves.
  6. Regulatory – People motivated by regulatory like to create compliance with rules.  If there isn’t already a regulatory structure they will create one. They are motivated by bringing their own work and/or that of others in conformance with standards.
  7. Theoretical – These folks enjoy learning for its own sake, regardless of whether the knowledge has immediate and direct application.  Research is pleasurable and motivating to theoretical people.
The challenge in creating a climate for motivation is that every individual’s motivational profile is different.  One person might be in the mainstream for certain values, and either overvalue or undervalue certain motivators that are integral to the company’s culture.  An effective leader needs to get to know individual employees in order to identify what their motivators are.  Or a diagnostic like Values Index can be employed to provide a profile without the guessing and time investment that a leader would have to do on his or her own.
Contact SummitHRD.com if you would like to see how the Values Index might help you create an environment for motivation in your business.